No gender bias at Aarhus BSS

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The grade averages of male and female students at Aarhus BSS didn’t change after exams were anonymised. Nevertheless, the faculty intends to keep exams anonymous.

2019.01.23 | Miriam Brems

In 2017 Aarhus BSS decided to anonymise exams to make sure that no students are discriminated against on the basis of gender or ethnicity. Illustration: Louise Thrane Jensen.

Facts: Crunching the numbers

  • The Aarhus BSS Administrative Centre has analysed all the grades given on the anonymised written exams.
  • The analysis compares the grades of male and female students before and after the introduction of anonymous exams.
  • And the results are clear: there is no statistically significant difference between the average grades of men and women before and after anonymous exams were introduced.
  • A so-called t-test was used to compare the two groups.
  • Even though exams are anonymous, the administrative centre can still analyse characters by gender, because all exams are marked with exam numbers that the administration can link to the individual students’ student registration numbers.

Since last summer, students at Aarhus BSS have not been required to state their names when turning in written exams. The faculty decided to anonymise exams to make sure that no students are discriminated against on the basis of gender or ethnicity. Three exam periods later, the results are in: There is no statistically significant difference in the the grade averages of male and female students before and after the introduction of anonymous exams. In other words, it seems that has been no gender discrimination in relation to exam assessment.

This is good news, according to Per Andersen, vice-dean for education at Aarhus BSS:

“It’s just great to get this confirmation that we don’t have a problem with bias. I’m very satisfied and pleased that it appears that things are working as they should, and that the individual exam papers are assessed on an objective and neutral basis,” he says.

The decision to anonymise exams was made on the background of international studies that suggest that examiners may unintentionally discriminate on the basis of gender and ethnicity. But even though this isn’t a problem at Aarhus BSS, the faculty will continue administering anonymous exams.

“It doesn’t cost extra resources, it’s not a challenge administratively speaking, and the evaluation shows that the students agree with the practice. So I don’t see any reason not to continue,” says Andersen.

Facts: Crunching the numbers

  • The Aarhus BSS Administrative Centre has analysed all the grades given on the anonymised written exams.
  • The analysis compares the grades of male and female students before and after the introduction of anonymous exams.
  • And the results are clear: there is no statistically significant difference between the average grades of men and women before and after anonymous exams were introduced.
  • A so-called t-test was used to compare the two groups.
  • Even though exams are anonymous, the administrative centre can still analyse characters by gender, because all exams are marked with exam numbers that the administration can link to the individual students’ student registration numbers.
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